Can Your Health Club Brand Thrive in the ‘Glass Box’?

Here’s how your health club can ride the wave of meaningful technology.

The fitness industry is that rare business sector that is primarily driven by passion. Club owners and fitness professionals want to effect meaningful change in the wider culture. While passion can’t replace a solid business strategy, in the big picture, this commitment to the fitness mission is a key driver for the overall success of the health club industry.

Profit and passion can go together, of course, and the best way to bring that about is by creating a meaningful experience for your members. If they share in the journey with you, they will stick with you for the long haul.

The good news is that all consumer trends point to a greater hunger for meaning. A recent article in Forbes states it plainly: “More and more, consumers are shopping with their emotions instead of their wallets.”

This is especially true of younger demographics. The article continues: “Indeed, Millennials’ changing preferences and attitudes regarding corporate responsibility, social consciousness, and more have already impacted how retail brands present and position themselves.”

Like or not, you’re operating in the midst of a cultural shift. Consumers are looking for meaning and purpose from your brand. And what’s influencing the decisions in the marketplace is technology.

“Like or not, you’re operating in the midst of a cultural shift. Consumers are looking for meaning and purpose from your brand. And what’s influencing the decisions in the marketplace is technology.”

Business trend experts call this current movement “brands in a glass box.” According to brand consultants Stella Rising: “A revolution in transparency is just getting started. Technology has made it easy for consumers to see the people, processes, and values that your company represents.”

Ask yourself what your members see when they look into the glass box of your club brand. If you can’t define it, neither can they, and that could be a problem.

Using the Cultural Shift to Your Advantage

According to global advertising firm the Havas Group, “75% of consumers worldwide expect brands to contribute to their well-being and quality of life.” Not everyone shares the same definition of those terms.

But research companies who measure market trends are discovering clear preferences for meaningful consumer experiences.

For example, according to a Nielsen data, 2018 was “the year of the sustainable shopper.” The report says, “Many U.S. consumers have touted their desire for more sustainable products for years, and the sales data shows that they’re using their spending power to effect the change they want to see in the world.”

Millennials are more likely to attach themselves to socially conscious brands. Research by Cone Communications found that 71% of Millennials say they prefer brands that drive social and environmental change.

Club owners should take note. Millennials account for 28% of health club membership, according to The IHRSA 2018 Health Club Consumer Report. And Generation Z, the age demographic that follows Millennials, has similar attitudes toward purposeful consumerism.

These two age demos are vital to your club’s success, particularly in the coming years when their influence will grow in the marketplace. Unfortunately, brand loyalty is an alien concept to these young consumers. IHRSA research has found that Generation Z and Millennials are more likely than older members to be lured to boutique clubs.

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They may have good reason. The 2018 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report states it bluntly: “Millennials and Generation Z are the future of the industry, but they remain underserved by the industry as a whole.”

Delivering a meaningful experience that connects with these consumers can transform your brand’s reputation. If your members feel that they’re serving a higher purpose by using your club, they’ll enthusiastically share it on social media. Consumer data has shown that “62.7% of consumers believe that online reviews are ‘important’ or ‘very important’ when choosing a local business.”

How do you serve this cultural shift and stay true to your club’s core mission? How do you make your brand synonymous with a higher purpose?

There is a way and it doesn’t require a massive investment or a total brand overhaul.

The Simple Way to Bring Meaningful Experience to Your Club

Many clubs have created a sense of purpose through the use of sustainable equipment. The leading brand in the eco-friendly category is SportsArt Fitness. Founded in 1977, SportsArt has developed numerous patents on the way to creating their revolutionary ECO-POWR line of durable cardio machines that harness human energy and convert it to utility grade electricity.

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This “watts to grid” concept is easily tracked through SportsArt’s SA WELL+ system. This innovative technology connects a smartphone app to the machine’s screen, which keeps a running tally of how many watts members produce during their training session. Then the system translates this number to an easy-to-understand measurement. For example, the energy a member produces in a workout can offset the carbon footprint of a gallon of gas or light a light bulb for an hour.

This immediate feedback is important. It encourages members to feel that they are making a difference. It’s adding meaning to their workout experience. And as an extra bonus, your club is saving on energy costs by capturing this human-generated energy into an electric grid.

Leading the charge, so to speak, of the ECO-POWR line are the Verde treadmill and the Verso cross-trainer. Both units have all of the bells and whistles consumers want in today’s state-of-the-art cardio units, including a full range of fitness programming. But they do something that other machines don’t: They provide a purposeful experience to your members. And that’s not only a boost to retention, but it can turn your members into an army of social media influencers for your brand.

With SportsArt’s ECO-POWR line, you’re not just providing a workout, you’re potentially creating a movement.

To learn more about SportsArt’s line of ECO-POWR equipment and other services, visit their website or call 1-800-709-1400.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org